Spain continued their seemingly unstoppable march towards the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ after defeating Belgium 5-0 in La Coruna to record their seventh win out of seven in Group 5. Although Spain are still not yet assured of a place in South Africa, after second-placed Bosnia-Herzegovina beat Armenia 2-0 earlier in the evening, it seems only a matter of time before the European champions seal their spot as they are six points clear with three games to go.
Valencia duo David Villa and David Silva both netted braces in the win, while Gerard Pique added the other. Villa also missed a first-half penalty when the game was goalless. Spain dominated from the start and the only surprise was that it took them until five minutes before half-time to make the first breakthrough.
With strike duo Fernando Torres and Villa causing Belgium's defence all sorts of problems, Spain could have had the match sewn up inside the opening 35 minutes, but a mixture of bad luck, poor finishing and good goalkeeping denied them. Villa twice went close in the opening 11 minutes, shooting wide and then seeing what seemed a certain goal stopped by the foot of Belgium goalkeeper Jean Francois Gillet.
Torres then took centre stage, smashing a shot against the underside of the crossbar - although it would not have counted due to an infringement - before sending a good chance just wide following a brilliant pass by Xavi. Spain were then handed a great chance to take the lead in the 22nd minute when Villa was sent crashing in the area by Anthony Vanden Borre after skipping past the Belgium number two.
However, the in-form hitman could not make the most of his good work as he missed the subsequent spot-kick, firing down the middle only to have the diving Gillet deflect the ball away with his foot. Vicente del Bosque's side must have felt it was not going to be their day when they struck the woodwork for a second time in the 35th minute, Villa deflecting Torres's shot onto the near post, but the home side's dominance finally paid dividends five minutes before the break.
This time Villa turned provider, with his clever pass picking out Valencia club-mate Silva inside the area and the diminutive midfielder made no mistake with his left-footed finish. That half-time lead was no more than Spain deserved, but it should have been a far more comfortable advantage.
That was not something the European champions needed to be worried about for long though, as they scored twice in the opening five minutes of the second half to put the game to bed. After Torres had headed a clear chance well wide, Villa doubled Spain's lead in the 49th minute when he fired home an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area.
Villa, whose goal was his 32nd for Spain, was also involved in his side's third goal, picking out Pique unmarked near the penalty spot, and the big Barcelona centre-back showed good composure to control the pass before coolly slotting past Gillet. That settled the outcome of the game, but Spain were not finished yet and Silva made it 4-0 in the 67th minute when he fired home from 25 yards out.
Outclassed Belgium, who now have no hope of automatic qualification out of Group 5, must have been hoping for the full-time whistle at that stage, but they almost pulled a goal back with 16 minutes to go when Iker Casillas did well to tip over Kevin Mirallas' shot. However, it was Spain who looked the more likely scorers in the closing stages and Cesc Fabregas brought a good diving save out of Gillet before the Arsenal man laid his side's fifth goal on a plate for Villa to complete a hugely impressive win.